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Social Security recipients should prepare for end of paper checks

Social Security disability insurance provides a financial lifeline for people who are unable to work due to illness or disability. For decades, those benefits have come to Pennsylvania residents in the form of a paper check in the mail. But beginning in March, that delivery system will officially end. Instead, all SSDI recipients will receive their payments via direct deposit, most commonly into their personal bank account. The Social Security Administration is currently trying to ensure that all recipients are prepared for the change.

The vast majority of people receiving SSDI benefits have already transitioned to direct deposit and have been managing those transactions online at the SSA's website. But not everyone is ready for the transition. In Pennsylvania, almost 181,000 people continue to receive their benefits in the form of a paper check. Many of these people may not have a bank account or access to a computer, making the upcoming change somewhat daunting.

Agencies that serve elderly and disabled Pennsylvanians have been trying to help more vulnerable recipients with the transition from paper to digital delivery of benefits. Many workers there agree with officials from the U.S. Treasury who say that the new system will better protect Social Security recipients against fraud or theft. It also makes record keeping easier, and could even save all of us taxpayers a bit of money -- $1 billion per year, to be more precise -- due to the savings in paper, printing and postage.

SSA officials also say that direct deposit of benefits will help homeless and disabled recipients, both of whom tend to have more trouble obtaining a bank account. The SSA has developed a special card called Direct Express, which can be used without a bank account to withdraw benefits. It acts like a credit or ATM card, has few to no charges and can be easily replaced if lost.

Direct deposit is coming, whether recipients are ready or not. For those who need help accessing benefits or navigating the complexities of the Social Security Administration, there is additional help. An attorney with experience in helping people obtain benefits can ensure that you get the benefits you need and deserve.

Source: The Times-Tribune, "Paper checks end in March for Social Security recipients," Denise Allabaugh, Jan. 27, 2013

  • Our firm works with Pennsylvania residents seeking Social Security disability benefits. To learn more about our practice, please visit our Harrisburg disability claims page.

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